A North Wales merchandising firm that provides Premier League sportswear is aiming for the big time by expanding and recruiting more staff.
Sional Promotional Merchandise Ltd has invested more than £8,000 in a new top-of-the range Brother embroidery machine, with the cost part-funded with a grant from Conwy County Borough Council.
The new machine, which will boost output by around 20 per cent, joins Sional’s four other specialist embroiders – all running at full speed to meet demand for the company’s products.
Sional, which has just moved into a new HQ on Llanfairfechan Industrial Estate, supplies more than 60,000 promotional products from branded pens to sports clothing, uniforms and hi-vis workwear, with items sent as far afield as Australia.
It is an official provider of sportswear for Premier League football clubs, and among its thousands of customers are UK-based multi-national companies including GreenThumb and Marshalls, plus the Welsh Olympic Trap Team, North Wales Car Club (Cambrian Rally), sports clubs, schools, local authorities and charities.
Sional founder and managing director Alan Jones said: “Conwy Council has supported us right from when the company started 12 years ago. The authority’s business unit’s support and advice has meant that we have been able to grow, taking on new staff as we have expanded.
“In fact, the very first machine we bought with a Conwy Council grant is still going strong today, so it has proved a real value for money investment. Brother machines are very reliable and it was expected to last for 3,000 hours of use. It’s actually done 5,000 hours – which is 1,530,000 stitches – and is still being used.
“The present grant from Conwy will cover 40% of the purchase cost of the new machine, a Brother PR 1050X, which is very sleek in comparison to our original machine. It can operate with 10 different colours of thread at the same time, which gives us the ability to carry out more complex work, and much faster.
“I believe that it will increase our productivity by around 20 per cent. Thanks to this, we have been able to take another member of staff, who will be working in our sales team.”
Trefor Rowlands from Conwy County Borough Council’s business unit has worked closely with Sional for the past decade, offering financial advice and support.
He said: “It has been heartening to see how the company has grown over the years, and is continuing to do. The new HQ means the company can expand its range of products and storage space, and so continue to grow and employ more local workers.
“Alan made clear in his grant application that the new embroidery machine was a key part of the planned expansion, as it enables Sional to turn round more complex orders far faster, matching what customers require.
“I am delighted to see it in operation today and hear that it is helping Sional win new customers and deliver bigger orders, all of which is positive for both the company’s future and for the local economy.”
The latest embroidery machine can do up to 1,000 stitches a minute, using 37 different letter fonts. It has a single head with 10 needles and a cylinder arm, and comes with a 10in LCD touch screen, an extra-large embroidery area, plus a camera sensor for embroidery positioning and on screen preview, and smart stitch management to ensure every stitch is in place.
It has been named Bertie by Sional technician Jenny Wilson and joins the company’s existing machines, Benedict, Bobby, Barnaby and Brodie – which was the company’s first machine. All of them were purchased from specialist sewing machine supplier Hobkirk’s in Blackburn.
Alan said: “Hobkirk’s level of customer service has been excellent and I’ve been very impressed with the machines that we have purchased.
“The machines are extremely reliable and there’s very little down time, other than regular servicing – my background is in engineering and so I can sort out any minor issues that might occur. When we moved into our new HQ recently, it was very simple to install them and get going on orders again.
“I suspect that we may have broken a few records with the amount of time that Brodie, our original embroidery machine, has been running,” added Alan.
Sional’s products include workwear and uniforms for companies, local authorities, health trusts, hotels, sports clubs and schools. Other promotional goods include banners, key-rings, pens, wallets, toys, bags, umbrellas and even onesies.
The company also runs free online shops for dozens of schools, clubs and societies, helping them to raise much-needed funds. They include the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, Bangor Gymnastics Club, Welsh Olympic Trap Team, Quattro Owners Club, Welsh Clay Target Association, North Wales Car Club, Weightlifting Wales, Ysgol Aberconwy and Ysgol Friars.
More details at 01248 689249 or sional.co.uk